Book Reviews

Redesigning America's Schools: A Systems Approach to Improvement

Reviewed by Jerry Horgen,
Superintendent, Pipestone-Jasper Public Schools, Pipestone, Minn.

How does one bring about change in public schools? Where does one start? Who are the key players? How do you know when you have arrived at your ultimate goal? What do you need to sustain the change you have achieved?

The three authors of Redesigning America's Schools try to answer these questions through something they devised: a Knowledge Work System. This is not a cookbook recipe but what they view as guideposts for someone undertaking systemic change.

Their efforts do not succeed. Their explanations are rather complex and cumbersome and the book includes so much educational jargon that it's hard to navigate. For example, the authors repeatedly use the term "solutioning," rather than solution, and talk very little about potential answers to situations confronted by reform-minded educational leaders.

The numerous diagrams don't help much toward our understanding of the process of long-term change. While research based, the text is like reading another language. Practicing administrators won't find much use for it.

(Redesigning America's Schools: A Systems Approach to Improvement by Francis M. Duffy, Lynda G. Rogerson and Charles Blick, Christopher-Gordon Publishers, 1502 Providence Highway, Suite 12, Norwood, Mass. 02062, 2000, 288 pp., $48.95 hardcover)